Vice President Operations of PayneCrest, Cory Borchardt, describes the unique mark the company has made on the electrical contractor industry.
PayneCrest maintains a vision to be the most trusted electrical contractor, the top choice for complex and high-risk projects, and to be recognized for its high levels of customer satisfaction. The company prides itself on an interwoven combination of profitable growth, passionate employees, a labor-centric strategy, and customer-centered ethos.
Cory Borchardt is a new addition to PayneCrest, having taken up the mantle of Vice President of Operations in September 2016. He has a solid 15 years of experience in the sector behind him, from industry and utility electrical contracting to large EPC powerhouse and manufacturing projects. In his latest role, Borchardt oversees large travelling projects all over the US, which currently are predominantly in the power and automotive sectors.
So how does PayneCrest manage its supply chain for these large, widespread projects?
“We’re somewhat unique in that realm,” says Borchardt. “We’re really focused on prefabrication, engineering support, and partnering with clients. When we have a large project in a remote location, we go out and try to partner with a supplier that has a large footprint – or a smaller footprint within a specific geography – who can support the transportation of supplies to our facilities even at the last minute, and keep us on a competitive landscape. We use in-house trucking and third parties if we need to, and if you talked to our suppliers, they would consider themselves our partners.
“We like to have conversations early on to work out where we all see the project going, what we expect from the partner, what type of timetables we’ll need, and maintenance of budget. What can we do to improve the process? Are there any material opportunities we can utilize? Everyone brings something different to the table.”
PayneCrest is a union contractor with a somewhat transient workforce, but the workforce is always the company’s responsibility. It offers safety training on-site, and boasts some impressive statistics. The safety page of PayneCrest’s website displays real-time updates showing the number of days passed without an injury, the below industry average for lost time injury rate, and safety awards, among other figures. The company is a member of various safety organizations, including ISNetworld, Avetta, and First Verify, and PayneCrest’s record is particularly impressive considering the high-risk projects it undertakes.
“I think a lot of our success in safety comes from both our senior and field management,” Borchardt explains. “One thing we take a lot of pride in is using the highest quality foremen that are able to not only teach that safety message, but lead by example and set the safety expectation. We really hold a high standard for our field supervision and I think most of the guys that are with us long-term wear that as a badge of honor. We don’t accept mediocrity when it comes to supervision. If you don’t perform, we coach at first to try to get you where you need to be, but long-term performance is a necessity to be part of our team.”
Part of PayneCrest’s staffing strategy is to empower each employee to allow them to advance. According to Borchardt, “we really rely on the project managers and field staff to control their own destiny,” and as such, the company doesn’t micromanage day-to-day operations. Instead, it trusts its contract workers to work at a consistently high quality and exercise their own entrepreneurial spirit in executing all tasks.
An important aspect of the job for field staff and project managers is customer satisfaction, something PayneCrest is especially proud of having an excellent reputation for.
“We strive for repeat business, and we have a strategy called The PayneCrest Way, which really highlights what our core values are to our customers,” says Borchardt. “We share that information with them and work to achieve it. It talks about how we partner with labor and are respectful, open, and honest about conditions on a job. You really see, if you talk to PayneCrest customers, that they see us as part of the solution on a project because of the way our people operate. Other contractors come to our engineering staff to get answers because they become a hub of information on the job.
“Even when it’s not in our scope to install, we try to help where we can; our customers see that and trusts us as a partner. When all is said and done, and when our customer comes back to us and says ‘thank you’ and wants to talk to us about the next thing they’re doing, that’s definitely the most rewarding part of the business for us.”
PayneCrest, like many other electrical contractors of its size, has a responsibility to keep ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. Its team of professional engineers and CAD staff is constantly undergoing further education, something which has led to the company being at the forefront of building information management (BIM) use.
“On large commercial projects, general contractors are using BIM, and we’re part of the coordination that goes with that,” explains Borchardt. “We make sure everything fits in the right place, and we take it a step further by modelling an electrical room, prefabricating the supports and layout of the conduits, verifying that everything is going to fit properly, and then prefabricating the entire thing with a BIM 3D picture of how it will look when it’s done. This can be a great labor-saving opportunity, reducing congestion on a job, and placing the safety issue into the prefab facility where we can control it. When we get into a big job where we can be effective on pre-construction, the level of engineering support we have really makes us the best choice for a large general contractor.”
Included in PayneCrest’s plan for the future is to continue to grow in the electrical power construction market, with a focus on solar and gas power construction to bring prefabrication, spooling, and engineering expertise to new projects.
“You don’t see a lot of prefabrication in a power house, because of the nature of the fast-track EPC projects,” Borchardt concludes. “It becomes difficult but I really think that PayneCrest’s expertise lends itself nicely to that industry. We’re one of the largest contractors here in St. Louis, and we’re all very similar in the work we do, but the thing to emphasize here is that our engineering and pre-construction team is hands-down the most advanced and sophisticated. When you look at the nationwide footprint of contractors that are doing the big power and automotive jobs, you’re going to see PayneCrest right at the top of that list of expertise, customer satisfaction, and repeat business.”